It’s that day of the year for many an annual/semiannual/otherwise special visit to church to celebrate Jesus’s (alleged) birthday! I said at the start of last year’s AMA that 2020 sure was a doozy of a year, and 2021 just doubled down on 2020, so I am not even going to lay any bets down on 2022. I hope that however you celebrate the holiday season allows you some joy and cheer in sending off 2021.

I have been doing these on Christmas Eve for several years now and still absolutely love doing them—they are a genuine highlight of my holiday. I hope to bring a little bit of levity and good humor to your Christmas Eve, wherever you may be, with this year’s annual Christmas Eve AMA. So, ask me anything about Christianity, the church, the Bible, what lies at the end of a rainbow, you name it.

A bit about my background—I have been in church ministry for the past twelve years, ten of them as an ordained pastor. In that time, I have served four different congregations, mostly as a solo pastor but also in interim and associate pastor-type roles. In short, I have definitely both seen some stuff and learned some stuff.

And, as always, my usual two disclaimers: 1) I am doing this solely in my personal capacity—I am not an official spokespastor for my denomination, region, publisher, or Christianity itself. And 2) I will not answer a question in a way that would necessitate betraying the confidentiality or privacy of the people for whom I am their pastor.

My last five years’ worth of AMAs: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

Proof: https://imgur.com/a/8m2BJMp and https://twitter.com/RevEricAtcheson/status/1474378865074130948

Edit: That’s all the time I have this Christmas Eve! I will try to get to one or two more questions if I have time later, but I want to thank y'all for the conversation so far. If you have not yet gotten vaccinated against covid-19 and are able to do so, please get vaccinated! If you have been vaccinated but have not yet gotten a booster and are able to do so, please get boosted! Merry Christmas and God bless.

Comments: 389 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

not_strong189 karma

My wife miscarried in January, during 2nd trimester. We were faced with the decision of what to do with the child's remains. The hospital was willing to dispose of the remains as medical waste but we were not OK with that. We didn't know what to do, though. So we asked the church. My wife is a lifelong Catholic. We attend mass in the Ft. Worth (TX) diocese. We asked a monk who is a family friend. He didn't know. We asked her uncle, a deacon, what to do and he had no idea. He connected us with a charity that supports women during pregnancy but we were told that our issue wasn't something they dealt with. We asked our church but no one could give us any direction. Were we supposed to have a funeral? Were we supposed to have last rites or any other sacrament? We don't know. We still don't know.

So were given the remains of the child in what was essentially a nice shoe box. I buried my dead son in a hole I dug in my backyard. I sang him a song and prayed the Our Father. That was it.

So why did the church, who campaigns so hard for sanctity of life, hang us out to dry when we needed help with the death of our child?

revanon160 karma

I am so sorry that happened to you. My wife and I experienced a miscarriage four years ago, and I don't think I'll ever forget how painful that felt. I remember sitting in the hospital chapel looking at a statue of Christ and demanding to know why.

I was educated by the Dominicans and the Jesuits and have a deep appreciation for Roman Catholicism, but I would agree that the humanity is missing from many such encounters with the church--and not just Catholicism. I have seen Protestant clergy treat abuse victims with appalling disregard, for instance. I don't think we do enough to prepare ministers for the empathy required to meet people where they are at. Seminary does a very good job of teaching you how to think like a minister, but it doesn't so much cover how to think like someone coming to a minister in a moment of acute crisis--the putting yourself in the shoes of the person you are ministering to part of the equation.

I also think the sanctity of life argument gets highly compartmentalized in ways that harm people, including you. For instance, I would love to see Christians ally around contraception and sex ed as statistically demonstrated ways to reduce abortions, but they don't. And when we compartmentalize something we claim is a bedrock or landmark issue, it opens the door to more stories like yours, where something that is a line in the sand in fact is treated with multiple levels of uncaringness. With your permission and only with your permission, I would remember you, your wife, and your son in my Christmas Eve prayers.

not_strong55 karma

Thanks for your answer. I'd appreciate your prayers, thank you. One more question, if you're up for it. Is what I did enough? Did I do right?

revanon163 karma

If it was what you could manage in the moment, and it was done out of love for your son, then it absolutely was, and I believe that God saw the righteousness of your desire to give your son the dignity that God deeply wishes for us all.

slevin_kelevra2287 karma

Hello, I have drifted away from Church/ Christianity over the last 5 or so years. I think the main reason is because (in my opinion) it began to be difficult to see Jesus in the church. When you break it down Jesus's message was pretty simple and it feels to me that the message is being taken and twisted into something that teaches exclusion rather than inclusion. Any thoughts?

revanon174 karma

I think a whole lot of Christian theology is essentially really bad fanfiction rather than an authoritative or even accurate glimpse into the nature of God the maker of heaven and earth and all that is seen and unseen and God-made-flesh in Jesus of Nazareth.

What is sadly ironic to me is that the same crowd that very loudly insisted to me when I was a kid on the importance of Capital-T Truth in the face of the dangers of moral relativism are now among the most outspoken moral relativists I see, and it largely has to do with political partisanship and the desire to maintain a caste system built on white supremacy.

I am sorry for the sake of the church that you have drifted away, but I also deeply understand why. I hope that we can pull ourselves together to make us worthy once more of your time, energy, and affections.

aaronisamazing55 karma

As a non believer thank you for being a rational Christian / person. You are very rare these days.

KCBandWagon7 karma

Often times we find what we’re predisposed to look for.

rhymes_with_snoop14 karma

Enh, I'd say it's more that the ones who are good aren't loud, and the ones who are loud are not good.

revanon43 karma

Bigots like Franklin Graham and hucksters like Joel Osteen are certainly infinitely more adept at attracting media attention than the neighborhood church that quietly goes about feeding people and keeping them from becoming homeless or having their utilities shut off.

Murfdigidy2 karma

I think the key to know that no matter what religion or denomination we choose it will not be perfect. Any organization run by humans will be flawed, why? because humans are flawed. We just aren't perfect, like Jesus, so any organization that is run by humans will have its short comings.

I think anyone looking for an excuse not to follow a denomination will easily find one, you're always going to have disagreements. But just like a marriage between two people, you should look to the positive and not the negative of that person/organization. Anyone can find faults in their own spouse just like anyone can find faults in their own religion.

The key is to focus on the core of that person and/or religion, which at its core, Christianity and Jesus teach us love, love for ourselves, love for others, and love for God... Above all else that is what matters most

revanon23 karma

Flaws are inevitable in every human endeavor, absolutely, but I do believe we should still try to minimize those flaws. What I hear from people who have left the church is that the church, far from even trying to minimize those flaws, actively made those flaws worse. From aiding and abetting abusive clergy to financial improprieties to excluding women and LGBTQ people from positions of leadership to which God may be calling them to hitching our proverbial wagons to one specific political party and acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of that party, the church has given many people plenty of reason to approach us with caution if we are to be approached at all.

I would hope that everyone seeking a place to worship God through Jesus Christ would find a place to do so where they experience that core of love. But I also know that has not been the case, and I think it is a service to both the church and the people who have left it to take their stories seriously (I'm not at all saying that you're not--but I've definitely seen folks in the church not do so).

SweetDove54 karma

What is a parson? Why isnt the term used as often? Who was Parson Brown?

revanon114 karma

A parson is either a parish pastor or a typo when you are trying to write person. My theory as to why the term isn't used more frequently is that parson tends to be associated with a priest-and-bishop system of itinerancy (that is, the pastor goes where they are sent by their bishop), and many American denominations and congregations do not use such a system.

Parson Brown is the pastor who can marry you when they're in town (which tbh is part of my theory above, that parsons are historically assigned by their bishops, so he can marry you the next time he is in town as part of his assignment). Rumors that my colleague Parson Brown is made entirely of snow continue to abound.

eucalyptusmacrocarpa26 karma

Fun fact. That gross little bit of knobbly fat at the end of a roast chicken is called the "parson's nose"

revanon73 karma

In the meadow we can build a snowman

And pretend that he's Parson Brown

He'll say are you married, we'll say no man

But instead of a carrot your nose is now a roast chicken

sarahcanary25 karma

You seem to have a positive attitude about the world, which living in rural Georgia is unusual for the Christians I personally know. I am not sure if there is a theological difference, but the grumpy Christians I know all are mainly focused on Revelation, the end times, how they are happening right now, and because I am atheist I am going to burn in hell forever. It's all an extremely toxic environment to be in. I often don't know what to say, but often try the love your neighbor approach. I am wondering two things:

1) What is your interpretation of Revelation, I've read other Christians interpret it as apocryphal poetry or referring to Rome at the time, and 2) what sort of response would you give to people who seem to use their christianity as weapon to put others down?

revanon61 karma

I believe that Revelation concerns events that were contemporaneous to the author and should not be used as a Biblical magic 8 ball. Considering we are batting a total .000 in correctly predicting the end of the world, it bothers me that we still insist on doing so, especially when doing so is an easy way to prey on people. My grandfather who passed away last month used to give thousands of dollars to an apocalyptic televangelist who was always predicting the end of the world, and both my grandpa and the televangelist died before the world did. It's so predatory, and I would say that people who weaponize Christianity, whether for financial gain or for power and status, are similarly being predatory.

25hourenergy8 karma

Just wanted to say thank you for this. I’m an Episcopalian moving around the South and sometimes I feel like I’m at the only tiny church in a sea of charismatic/fundamentalist Christians who isn’t obsessed with Revelations and condemning/victimizing themselves. Even some of the Episcopal churches seem stuck about 30 years behind in some of these places just due to the culture they’re embedded in. It really does feel like a predatory form of Christianity sometimes.

I asked this during my confirmation lessons and was told “it would make an interesting thesis”—could the commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" be interpreted as not fear mongering and preying on the weak in His name, doing things like the Westboro Baptist protests in His name, or waging religious wars in His name (when the real motive is things like land/politics/money like with much of the Crusades?) And why isn’t this major commandment discussed more, over things like efforts to reinterpret random Biblical details to support views for/against LGBTQ or abortion?

revanon14 karma

My family and I moved to the Deep South a year and a half ago because we felt called here., and while what you describe is definitely universal across the United States, it is strong here for sure.

I do think that taking the Lord's name in vain is more a prohibition against (mis)using the name of God to justify sin and hatred--including of LGBTQ people--than about cussing. There is some, as the Brits would say, fruity language in the Bible for sure, and what tends to anger God the most isn't that but injustice done in God's name. God says loud and clear to injustice, "Not in my name."

sarahcanary7 karma

Do you have a critical analysis/article you can recommend to support your interpretation? I would like to introduce other ways at looking at Revalation from a Christian source. The culture around End Times Christianity is terrifyingly negative it's almost has me believing demons are real and invented this interpretation to fill the world with as much hate as possible.

revanon20 karma

Adela Yarbro Collins is my personal gold standard for interpreting Revelation (and apocalypticism more broadly). If you find anything she has written, it is likely to be extremely good.

Aequitas1231 karma

What other aspects of Christianity do you think are incorrect and predatory?

revanon11 karma

Pretty much whenever those aspects get misused to propogate bigotry, abuse, or financial/emotional/etc. exploitation.

rvapdx119 karma

If a technologically advanced aliens species came to earth - an incomprehensibly advanced species far beyond any human idea, how would you explain Christianity to them?

revanon33 karma

If their level of sophistication is beyond my comprehension as a human, I suppose I'm not sure how I would explain Christianity to them. Charades is probably off the table, though.

I would probably try to explain the significance of Jesus Christ to me, since I imagine with their ridiculous technology that they could read the entire Bible in the time it takes me to pour a drink.

rockingmonkey15 karma

Following on. If intelligent lifeforms existed on other planets how would you reconcile that with the abrahamic belief that God created the universe for us humans and that we are his final creation?

revanon30 karma

For the same reason that so many television shows end up jumping the shark instead of ending when they are still really good--sometimes, creators just can't help themselves but keep creating. But since God is God and not a television showrunner, God can see how a universe might benefit from additional intelligent life instead of additional mediocre sitcom episodes.

sidekickbananaduck17 karma

I know a few people who were born on Christmas. Does Jesus feel bad for stealing their thunder every year?

revanon53 karma

My guess is probably not, because as many redditors hasten to remind me every time I do one of these, there is in fact no historical record that Jesus was born on December 25, and it isn't His fault that we potentially got His birthday wrong.

doveinabottle17 karma

What is your denomination? Since you mention solo pastor, interim, and associate pastor, I’d guess some stripe of Lutheran.

revanon37 karma

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We spun off from Presbyterianism during the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s, and Presbyterianism was influenced by Luther, so I guess we're Lutheranism's theologically unruly grandchildren?

doveinabottle7 karma

My husband is an ELCA Lutheran pastor, so your terminology was familiar - thanks!

revanon21 karma

I worshiped at an ELCA congregation for a time when I was in college, but that was mostly because I thought the pastor there looked and sounded like Ned Flanders from The Simpsons. It did start an ongoing affinity for the ELCA for me!

Anonquixote16 karma

How would you respond to someone who views Christianity as immoral and unethical by its very nature, because it insists on divorcing those same institutions from the reality we live in? If ethics and morality are meant to answer how to live a good life, subjective interpretations aside, mustn't their foundations be based in this dimension? If they come from God, who is unfathomable and unknowable, existing outside this realm... Well, no offense, but how is that really any different than being completely arbitrary? Could religions claim that they have a monopoly on morals in this way actually be what's primarily wrong with the world, by preventing us from finding the right morals? Also, could the concept of original sin be a self fulfilling prophecy? I don't think we're born evil by nature, we just get convinced that we're supposed to be.

revanon16 karma

Any faith tradition can be used for good or evil. There are good Christians and evil Christians just as there have been with any faith tradition. I would say that when a faith tradition gets merged with a worldview that is irredeemably evil, like fascism or racism, that particular interpretation of the faith tradition is indeed immoral and unethical, but by the nature of being blended with something that is inherently evil.

Acknowledging that isn't arbitrary, I don't think. If religion has prevented us from finding the "right morals," (to use your term) I think that is because we in our sinfulness have merged religion with profoundly evil worldviews at different times in history, and we continue to live with those consequences today.

But to say that religion can't also be a force for good is likewise to deny several very important points of history, and I prefer to take those tools and use them to dismantle the houses built on prejudice, selfishness, and endemic violence.

Anonquixote6 karma

I agree with what you're saying, that it can be used for both good or evil. It's a set of tools and it's up to who's wielding them. I didn't mean to discount the good that religion can also do for some people. But I confess I don't feel the question was quite answered. It's not the blending of religion with worldviews that I think makes Christian morals arbitrary, but that I think the God who commanded them to us doesn't actually exist. So from my perspective, it's a morality that's come from nowhere and founded on nothing, when our species desperately needs a guide for living that's actually grounded in this life. I can respect that you do believe he exists and that's fine, but if he exists only in an unfathomable and unknowable limitless form (how it's always been explained to me anyway), how does anyone think they've met him or interpreted him correctly? Said another way, if he exists only in some unknowable alternate dimension, then what's that even got to do with us in this one? That's what I mean by arbitrary. One of the commandments is honor your mother and father but some parents abuse their kids. What should we tell them? Surely the threat of hell and reward of heaven can't be the only reason to do good? Isn't doing good reason enough?

revanon4 karma

I mean, sure, in a vacuum doing good is reason enough.

In historical reality, though, the absence of religion is no guarantee of morality whatsoever. The atheist (or at the very least atheist-adjacent) regimes of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, et al killed people in truly astronomical numbers. And honestly, from my vantage point a reckoning with that reality is just as absent within atheism as a reckoning with the historical harms of Christianity is within swaths of the church.

carpecanem4 karma

Roger Haight's book "Dynamics of Theology" addresses that gap between the unknowable transcendent and cultural level beliefs. In the first chapter, I believe. It's well written and well thought out, and I think you may find it useful. In short, he distinguishes between faith and belief. Faith is that experience of encountering and responding to the divine- a transcendent experience which is by definition unspeakable. Experiencing the divine is not an unknowable thing, it's just not a linguistic experience/knowledge. However, being speaking, pattern-seeking creatures who like to share information, we can't help but try to explain what happened, to put it into words, to tell stories about it, and we necessarily use metaphor. Those stories we tell ourselves about the unspeakable are beliefs. Human nature being what it is, we get attached to those stories, forget they are only metaphors, forget that the signifier is not the signified, the map is not the territory. And different cultures/languages lead to different kinds of metaphors/stories. So while beliefs can't really be held to be FundamentallyTrue, they aren't necessarily arbitrary, either. There is a discernable logic behind them- non-linguistic experiences of Oneness that then get filtered through cultural habits of parsing the world into separate pieces of referential linguistic data. (Of course we're going to fuck that up, lol.) The fact that a lot of mystics from all different kinds of religious traditions seem to say some awfully similar things is consistent with that model. Their writings/teachings are first-level metaphors, before they've been codified into theologies/mental habits.

Anyway, good luck in your pursuit of this question. It's an awfully important one, and more people should ask it.

P.S. I'd like to note that all your questions are good ones, but many of them assume things about "Christianity" that probably aren't helpful in your inquiries. It's such a broad term, and encompasses so many different traditions, many of which espouse very different values. For example, not all Christians 🙄 believe god only exists outside of this realm/dimension, or is a "he". "Transcendent" is a complicated term (how do you refer to something that can't be comprehended? How do you limit the limitless in a word?), and worth exploring more. Also, some believe that original sin means that humans are born inherently sinful, some believe that it means we are born with a capacity to sin. You have valid, critical issues with specific theologies. I'd recommend exploring those particular theologies, and their components, otherwise you're bound to get a lot of noise in response to overly generalized questions.

revanon2 karma

Just swinging by real quick after Christmas Eve festivities to add my endorsement to citing Roger Haight in this discussion, and this post offers several points in a much better way than I would have found the words for.

av198715 karma

Hi! Is Santa real?

revanon49 karma

If I say Santa isn't real then I know my parents are going to get calls from angry parents saying I told their kids on the playground that Santa isn't real, so Santa is in fact real.

bigSlicePls4 karma

Santa was originally green. Coca Cola made him red.

revanon13 karma

So I guess Santa was never one of those BETTER DEAD THAN RED folks huh

I learn something new every day

FUNNY_NAME_ALL_CAPS7 karma

This is actually an urban legend. Red and white santa existed before Coca-Cola.

revanon14 karma

But is it really an urban legend if the only house in the North Pole is Santa's? Sounds more like a rural legend to me

TestingTheStrongOnes13 karma

What’s one trend at your local parish and/or denomination as a whole that worries you about the future of your belief system and one that is exciting/encouraging?

revanon24 karma

If you have heard of the name Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II at some point over the past few years, he is a minister of my denomination and has pastored one of our congregations in North Carolina for many years en route to creating Moral Mondays and then Repairers of the Breach and bringing back Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign. His focus on human dignity, equality and equity, and justice as a desire of God represents the very best of my denomination, and his rise has encouraged me as much as anything over the years.

Probably what worries me the most right now is that the morale of clergy--and especially us younger clergy--is the lowest I have ever seen it in my twelve or so years of active ministry. 2020 was an incredibly tough year, but for many of us there was still some sentiment of "we're all in this together" shared sacrifice. That was totally gone in 2021, and so many of us have been worn down by a year of having to continually correct selfishness and bad behavior for the sake of health and the common good. I've had several colleagues leave congregational ministry completely over the past two years, and I do not think the church is ready for the Great Resignation in its own ranks.

jcsizzle109011 karma

Have you ever seen someone without a Christian upbringing/background come to faith? If yes, how did it play out?

revanon15 karma

Yes. It can take place in one of those eureka moments, but in my experience it more often plays out of the course of many months or years as the person wrestles with their faith to make it their own and then find a church in which they and their new faith can flourish. Often there is an influence from pastors like me--before someone outside the faith joins it, I may be the only pastor in their lives, so I try to be open and helpful and not pushy. When it all fits together, a person can become deeply passionate about their faith, so much so that we have a term for it--NCF, or New Convert Faith. That energy is pretty electric to see.

Surkit11 karma

Hello sir,

Something I've long wondered was what drives someone to being a pastor. Disclosure; I'm an atheist that grew up in a catholic family and don't keep up with scripture. I was under the impression that the Bible says to be fruitful and multiply. In an age where secondary nobility aren't forced into the church; what drives someone to decide to be an instructor on God's words instead of a practioner?

revanon20 karma

Below is what I shared elsewhere on this thread, with the addendum that I am still very much a practitioner--I do many of the same spiritual exercises my flock does, which I think is important to any spiritual leader.

Even though I told an auntie of mine when I was eight or nine that I wanted to be Biblical prophet when I grew up (lol) I spent most of my childhood thinking I shouldn't or couldn't be a pastor because I wasn't (and am not) a Republican. Seriously.

Then, on the night of my senior prom in high school, a childhood friend of mine died in a car accident, and I was scheduled to preach at my childhood congregation the following morning...and I was preaching on, of all things, God's care and providence in times of loss. During the second service, I couldn't get the microphone to work, and I was bone-tired and exhausted in every way. Then the sunlight came back out through the skylights in the sanctuary, and I literally stepped into the light. It was like the flames coming down on the Apostles in the Pentecost story of Acts 2...my temperature erupted, my focus returned, and I started preaching again. I felt I was in fact experiencing God's care and providence in a time of loss.

Afterward, my dad, who is what I call a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) churchgoer, sat me down and basically said, "I know you have a much deeper faith than I do, but I was there and saw what happened, and if you don't at least consider a religious career, your mother and I will have failed you." And ever since then, ministering to others in some form or fashion is pretty much all I have ever wanted to do.

TimTheButcher11 karma

I ask this in earnest and not to appear disrespectful. What gives you the confidence in your belief of the god and the faith that you follow, that you do not find in the gods and faiths of other religions? Or put more plainly, why do you consider Christian belief true, but not Hindu belief or Islamic belief etc?

revanon13 karma

I don't think every faith tradition outside of Christianity is inherently or completely false--I imagine there is truth to be found in most faith traditions (as I noted elsewhere here, most religions have some variation of the foundational "don't be a jerk" ethical rule), and I think that truth is important to acknowledge. I was raised in Christianity and have experienced the most truth in my life as a direct result of it, and so while I very much understand and empathize with my peers who have left the church, I personally have not felt any desire to leave. The church is still my home, and I hope it always will be.

pwndabeer11 karma

Why do Christians have such a persecution fetish?

revanon24 karma

I increasingly think it is because beliefs around those persecution mentalities--like a desire to discriminate against or materially harm LGBTQ people--are increasingly and correctly seen as morally indefensible, and so some of my brethren have tried to move away from the (im)morality of it by instead claiming that not allowing them to harm people on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity is persecution rather than an actual culture of life.

However, the loss of political clout and caste status is emphatically not the same thing as persecution. and I say this as a descendant of genocide survivors who has some very strong feelings about that history getting appropriated and minimized for the sake of that persecution mentality.

PaganButterflies10 karma

Oh, hey, I wrote the Catholic pope once, and they told me to talk to a priest, so maybe I can talk to you.

I was raised Jehovah's Witness. I left eventually, because I was pregnant and couldn't bear to force that life on my kids. Towards the end, I wanted to die instead of walking through the church doors. The elders were telling me I needed to be a better wife for my cheating husband, so he wouldn't feel the need to cheat, my husband was upset with me because I had to take care of our baby instead of have sex with him, and it got awful. I used to weep on the kitchen floor, rocking with my baby, begging God to help me and wondering why he abandoned me. Eventually, I picked myself up, told God he damn well better understand, refused to answer calls from the elders, divorced my abusive, cheating husband, got my own job and now am in a a much better place.

I, personally, am much happier in life, and my kids are safe, happy and loved, however, I lost the vast majority of my family and friends because JWs believe in shunning. My mom calls me every couple of months and begs me to reconsider my decisions because she doesn't want me to die at Armageddon and is worried I am too flippant in my attitude towards God and he will judge me adversely for leaving the JWs and divorcing my husband. She says it is presumptuous o me to think I could make it on my own without the church, and I need to learn humility and return for the sake of myself and my kids. My take is that a god of justice, love and mercy, would understand not wanting to raise kids in anger and fear and would support my decisions, but my mom (and the rest of the church, my mom is just who calls me every few months), insists without the protection of the church, I'm pretty much doomed. At this point, I'm not even sure god exists, but, I guess my question is, as a parish priest who, evidently, does believe in god, what's your take? Am I doomed to be judgement for being presumptuous and building my own life where my kids get to celebrate Christmas, or is god cool with me leaving and living a life where I'm not being abused and my kids are safe? And as I type that, I realize that sounds like a super loaded question, which makes me realize, the deeper question, I guess, really, is what does god think about organizations representing him the have abuse built so deeply into the fabric of their teachings?

Thanks!

revanon5 karma

First and foremost I am so sorry that was your experience with the JWs, and I am so glad to know that you are in a much better place now.

I think there is so much many (mostly male) church leaders have gotten wrong around Jesus's teachings of divorce, namely that in the ancient Near East (not just in ancient Judea, but in many other nations), the power to divorce lay almost entirely with the man. Women had to work hand over fist to leave their husbands, and doing so was an economically and existentially fraught proposition. Instead of taking that context into account--that Jesus was condemning using divorce as a tool of patriarchy--many church leaders have, for a very long time, taken His teachings to mean women can't leave their husbands. And that just isn't the context of the teaching at all. But it does uphold the abuse and patriarchy the male church leaders are accustomed to.

I fundamentally believe that God desires a culture of life in which we flourish, and if that life has to come about by leaving an unfaithful or abusive spouse, I believe that God understands that necessity. I am sorry that this has come at the expense of your familial relationships, and of your family's belief in your own salvation. I understand your hesitation to believe in God, but I believe abusing God's children is exponentially more deleterious to one's relationship with God than hesitating on your belief in God.

veddy_interesting10 karma

What's the most important theological insight you've experienced?

Or, if that's too personal to reveal, what impact has that insight had on your progress as a person?

Merry Christmas Eve!

revanon36 karma

When I realized sometime in young adulthood that God's love is a blessing to experience rather than an argument to be proved, I believe that made me an exponentially better person and, eventually, a pastor. Merry Christmas Eve to you and yours too!

doug19729 karma

What advice would you give to a "doubtful seeker" about how to encounter the Divine?

revanon22 karma

In what circumstance do you feel closest to God? And I don't just mean setting--like at a church, or in nature, or with family, although that is definitely an important factor. But what do you do that makes you feel an affinity for God? The God of the Bible is a God of action--creating, speaking, teaching, sending Christ, delivering the Holy Spirit, and more. I do not believe God intended for us to merely be passive recipients of divine presence. I would ask someone what do they do that makes them feel closest to God, and what, if anything, makes them feel furthest? Then, how do we maximize not only the quantity but quality of the former, and minimize quantity of the latter?

jazzjunkie847 karma

I grew up in the church and was pretty aware of the schism between believers who preached a literal view of creation/miracles and those who considered an evolutionary/scientific combination. I.e. not to underplay creation or miracles, but consider scientific interpretations AS Gods amazing way of doing things.

Curious if you know of any theories concerning the birth of Christ by a Virgin woman that don’t involve some weird conspiracy theory about her having a secret affair? Or if some view this metaphorically? Or is the consensus that it literally happened and there is no explanation in science

revanon39 karma

The birth of Christ to a virgin woman was one of the Five Fundamentals of 1910, which is one of the building blocks of contemporary American evangelicalism, so for much of Christianity here in the States, the virgin birth is considered to have literally happened and there is no scientific explanation or conspiracy.

Isaiah 7:14 tends to be pointed to by Christians in support of the virgin birth because Matthew does so in his Gospel's Christmas story, but the term Isaiah uses has more to do with age--youth, specifically, of just coming of childbearing age--and strictly speaking is not a commentary on a status of virginity. And as most contemporary Jews will point out, Isaiah almost certainly was not thinking about Jesus when he wrote that verse.

My personal belief is that the divinity of Christ does not rely upon His mother's virginity--that is, Mary could have been a virgin or not and it would not have changed Christ's divinity one bit. Mary was not chosen by God for her virginity, and to say she was contributes to a purity culture that has done a lot of harm to women and girls in the church. Put another way: I don't need a virgin birth to prove Christ's divinity or Mary's saintliness. Both of those stand on their own merits.

quinnly7 karma

My little sister is getting married in a few months and my Christian aunt is refusing to go or let any of her kids go to the wedding for religious purposes (because my sister is marrying a woman). Is there anything I can do or say to my aunt to make her realize how much of a mistake she's making? Not only for her, but for her kids as well. I don't want my sister's relationship with our cousins to be ruined. Nor my aunt's relationship with my mom, etc.

revanon11 karma

I am so sorry that your aunt has chosen to treat your little sister like that. I wish I could tell you there was a magic set of words to tell your aunt, but I am afraid I don't have any, especially if you want to avoid the burning of bridges (which I also understand). The Bible says that Pharaoh's heart was hardened many times over before the Israelites were finally liberated from bondage, and it sounds like your aunt's heart is hardened--hard enough to make this choice. She is not making the loving choice (even if she may think she is, I've heard that from queerphobic Christians), and I do think it is fair of you to make that clear to her on your sister's behalf. Because truthfully, she's communicating that she will continue to show her tail to your sister and your sister's fiancee, and that is apt to come to a boil inevitably. Hate is not sustainable.

TedMeister886 karma

If you were given the chance to participate in an interfaith dialogue to foster goodwill and understanding between religions, what would you discuss?

This Baha'i is quite curious.

revanon14 karma

Probably ethics? Most major faith traditions have some variation of "do unto others" or "love your neighbor as yourself." I think discussing the origins of those ethics, how they get expressed and how they should be expressed (which aren't always the same thing!) and what our hopes for an ethical future might look like would be a fascinating dialogue that I hope would generate goodwill and understanding.

SquirrelTale5 karma

Hello Pastor! What a nice thought to host this AMA online for the past few years. No idea if you're still answering questions, and I hope it's ok, but I have a kind of 3-parter.

  1. When living in Korea (there's a lot of Christians there) after a nice chat with my Korean co-teacher I realized that for Korean Christians Christmas is purely go to church for Christ's Mass- and that's it. All of the traditions I loved, from Christmas trees, cookies, the feast with family (and more) all seemed to stem from really old European traditions, mainly being Pagan in origin (Saturnalia and Yule being the top contributors) or just growing from centuries of church services. How do you view modern celebrations of Saturnalia and Yule- do you tend to see Christ in these traditions, or do you ever feel the Pagan influences of the past in modern services in the church?
  2. I'm rather agnostic and have become Wiccan myself. I used to go to Christmas Eve mass with my mom to support her, but I always end up feeling awkward. I'll bow my head during prayer (but not pray along), and stand when asked to so I can be respectful, but I don't sing any hymns that I feel go against my beliefs. Is there a way I can be respectful but not partcipate?
  3. A lot of people have had 2 Christmas Eve masses cancelled twice in a row, and I know for many it's not only one of the most important masses of the year, but also just such a sacred, loving time for them in their church community. How have you (and your community) been doing?

Wishing you and your parishoners a very Blessed Christmas.

revanon4 karma

I certainly don't think the yule trappings of Christmas are necessary to celebrate Christmas, but then again my wife and I always go and cut down a Christmas tree, so I suppose I am a bundle of contradictions on that one.

I think what you are doing--bowing your head, standing, etc.--is perfectly acceptable. I served as an interim for a Presbyterian church for two years and they recited a creed every week. But I belong to a noncreedal denomination, so we worked it out so that on Sundays when I preached or led worship that someone else would do that part and I would just stand respectfully. It worked out just fine. I am certain your mom appreciates you accompanying her Christmas services.

My congregation was online-only last Christmas, but this year we have most everyone vaccinated and boosted, we require masks, and we rope off every other pew entrance to facilitate some social distancing. We also offer an online worship option which many of our folks who have disabilities or are more cautious have availed themselves of. Truthfully, one silver lining of a truly horrific pandemic has been many churches working to make themselves more accessible on Sunday mornings, and I hope that sticks.

djbenjammin5 karma

Why do you feel churches should continue to receive tax exempt status when so many are corrupt and abusing it???

revanon3 karma

I think that if churches lose tax-exempt status, then about two nanoseconds later it would be weaponized against historically Black churches, other churches of color, and non-Christian communities of faith (especially mosques). So taxing the churches won't hurt Joel Osteen, but it will get turned against churches and places of worship that serve as vital hubs for their communities to access the ballot, and so it would further contribute to the democratic backsliding of the United States.

TheN00bBuilder5 karma

An odd question, but do you have any hobbies? All the priests I’ve known when I was in Catholic school always had interesting hobbies - from target shooting to being well known in cooking.

revanon12 karma

Before covid I played amateur soccer, including for a few years at a relatively high level, and I coached it for a while too. I also play the saxophone--and actually just led my congregation in a carol-sing last week on it.

Unfortunately, pandemic parenting has really done a number on my hobbies, and I haven't had the time for them that I did pre-covid.

ImSorryToRant4 karma

I've been getting the 'when are you getting a girlfriend' question all evening but I've not found the heart to tell them yet. One of the hardest things is trying to be faithful and follow God whilst having feelings for men. My question is, how can god love me if he states in his word that he hates me? And how can he love me if I don't even love myself..

Sorry to somber christmas. Thanks for doing this AMA.

revanon4 karma

I don't think God hates you. Full stop. I believe the verses to which you are referring have words that don't translate well into English because of their relative rarity (the word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians, for example, only appears in one other place in the Bible), and Paul's Stoicism--which isn't really a Christian philosophy, although he tried to make it one in a fashion--really tinges his teaching on physical intimacy in a way that isn't really applicable today because, well, we're not Stoics.

All of that is to say: I sincerely do not believe God gave you those feelings for men just to mess with you or to rig this as a game you cannot win. I think sexual orientation was understood very differently then--if at all--than now, and while God is eternal, our knowledge of the world around us isn't...after all, we once believed the world was flat and that the sun revolved around it.

I am so sorry for the pressure you must be feeling, both internally and externally. I do not believe that God wishes it. I do believe that God loves you and wants to see you flourish. If that flourishing includes a healthy and consensual relationship with another man, I believe God loves that love you would share as well, and would bless a love that adds fulfillment to the world rather than pain. I 100% believe that God believes that you are worthy of love--of God's love, of your own love for yourself, and of the love of another consenting adult whom you in turn love.

emgarf4 karma

Most people would agree that morality is worthwhile, but why should one obscure it with superstition?

revanon23 karma

That last word strongly suggests you aren't asking your question in good faith or with an open mind. You say morality is worthwhile, so I guess I would answer your question with a question: what moral obligation is there to answer questions that are posed not so much to elicit a real answer but to communicate the asker's disdain of the person they are questioning?

DigiMagic8 karma

It's nice that you have honestly shared your thoughts, but in the long term, if you've shared a good answer to the posed question even if it really wasn't asked with best intentions, I think that would do more good.

revanon19 karma

I suppose I don't agree with the premise that there is a good answer to a question that amounts to, "why are you a rube who believes in superstitions?"

ShakiraFuego4 karma

Hi! I am not religious but I just wanted to thank you for reaching out and Merry Christmas!

So, my birthday is tomorrow (Dec 25th) and in kind of a selfish way, it stinks because it's a time of year to be unselfish by sharing, caring, and understanding. While most of the world is celebrating Christmas/the holidays (secular and non-secular), a holiday birthday kind of gets forgotten about and it can be a bit of a bummer. So what advice would you give to someone who may be feeling a bit down about being forgettable during a very unforgettable time of year?

revanon6 karma

It's definitely an odd feeling to have to carve out or compartmentalize your birthday--it's not quite the same thing, but I was born just a couple days before the Challenger disaster, and it has been tough for me to swing from festive birthday celebration to somber remembrance of a deeply traumatizing loss of life. So I can empathize with wanting to honor yourself in a happy and joyous way but feeling like it gets overshadowed.

I think a tradition that you create and keep every year as much as possible would be interesting...like, NOT another Christmas tradition--we already have so many of those!--but one that is for you, that you take time to partake in every year. Set that boundary around it and be okay with saying, "this is for me because like Jesus, I am God's child too." I hope that is a helpful suggestion, and I'll give you some gold for your birthday too. For what it is worth, this is not a forgettable question because of the depth behind it, and I think I will remember it--and you--for some time. Merry Christmas to you as well!

Kwaj143 karma

What is your favorite thing about Birmingham? I went to college there (Samford), but the city has changed dramatically in the near-decade since graduation.

revanon5 karma

There is a great deal of ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity if you know where to look, and it has made our time here so much richer already.

polar_bakasoup3 karma

Hi! I just wanted to preface this by saying I’m not that big on religion (like many Redditors, God existing is a solid maybe though) and I was raised in a pretty progressive 1/2 Hindu family. But, I’m wondering about how your childhood was to lead you to becoming a pastor. IE - did you grow up Christian? How did this impact your future career?

And another thing, thoughts on other religions (specifically Hinduism as it’s a personal curiosity, but I’m really wondering about any one)? IE - do you agree with other religions in any sense? Do you see any aspects of them as being correct? Thanks :-) happy holidays!

revanon4 karma

My dad is a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) churchgoer but my mom is a devout Christian and she raised my sister and me in the church. I honestly thought for most of my childhood that I couldn't be a pastor because I wasn't a Republican (this belief didn't come from my parents, but from my surroundings growing up in a red state), so I entertained plenty of other options--teaching, communications, politics, dinosaur hunting (I'm part of the Jurassic Park generation after all). I didn't say yes to the call to ministry until I was 18.

I will confess to knowing very little personally about Hinduism, but I said elsewhere here that I think most faith traditions as having some version of the foundational "don't be a jerk" ethical rule, and I think that is an important common thread between religions. Happy Holidays to you as well.

roboreddit10003 karma

Right wing US "Christians" use the Bible to justify resistance to paying taxes.

What are your thoughts. Are there counter biblical quotes that would argue that paying taxes to help the poor rather than private charity is called for by the Bible?

revanon8 karma

So at top, I'd point out two important things: First, churches do pay all sorts of taxes--we pay social security/medicare taxes for all non-pastoral employees (basically, everyone on my church's staff but me), sales taxes, gasoline taxes on mileage for church business, and more. And it is right and proper for us to pay those taxes.

Second, I think something the tax-the-churches proponents don't take into account (or perhaps do and it's a feature for them instead of a bug because racism) is that taxing the churches probably won't hurt Joel Osteen all that much, but it will absolutely get weaponized against historically Black churches and other churches of color in approximately three nanoseconds, because that is how laws get enforced in the US.

Having said both those things--I think the render-unto-Caesar response Jesus gives to the question of whether it is proper to pay taxes or not serves a few purposes, but one of those purposes is to acknowledge that money is created in the image of the state rather than the image of God. So returning it to the state in some form or fashion is a part of the social contract (albeit one the Roman Empire cared little for in occupied Israel).

roboreddit10003 karma

Thank you. My question was not about churches paying taxes but Christians justifying low personal taxes and low government spending on a social safety net for poor people by using the Bible.

How do you feel about that? Any quotes that would counter the arguement that the Bible tells Christians to NOT help the poor via taxes?

revanon6 karma

Sorry I misunderstood your question. I would point towards Acts 2 and 4 where the early church was basically set up as a commune where **all** resources were pooled. Like, "to each according to need" isn't from Marx, it's from Luke, the author of acts. And if the early church could do that, we can afford give a part of our resources on behalf of the poor.

thekillercook3 karma

Why do Christians make so many images of their lord? Isn't it kinda like a golden idol? I mean I've seen gold statues of Christ. Does the old testament bit about not making images of the lord not apply?

revanon6 karma

There actually has been some pretty historically significant theological conflicts over this issue! (The fancy seminary term for this is iconoclasm.)

My take is that a graven image has as much to do with the value assigned to the image as anything else. That is why money is often seen as an idol--the value assigned to it often eclipses the value we assign to one another.

Put another way, if we assign an image of God greater value than the imago dei we see in one another, then yes, at that point it becomes an idol.

jacobcriedwolf3 karma

Have you ever made your parish a big dish of pasta? Parish Pastor's Pasta

revanon14 karma

No, but you do give me an idea. There was an Italian restaurant near my childhood home that served a "three-way pasta," and it was so big my family and I called it the "three-day pasta." I could serve that big dish of pasta on Easter Sunday and call it the three-day pasta!

KingsleyDo3 karma

What’s your favorite color?

revanon18 karma

Am I standing before a bridge asking you for passage across it?

E-everything-LI58 karma

If this is a reference to Mony Python, then Bravo to you sir

revanon6 karma

Ding ding ding!

redhead-rage-10 karma

The fact that you can't even answer simple questions make your non answers to the more nuanced questions even more obnoxious.

revanon3 karma

Do you do social media consulting, I would love to pay you cash money to have you tell me all the ways in which I am obnoxious on Al Gore's internet

finishwhatyousta3 karma

Very sincere question that has never been satisfactorily answered for me:

The wages of sin is death. If Jesus died to pay for our sins, who was he paying? God? Himself? If so, why did he have to die? It seems circular and pointless. That or there is a more Supreme being above God, and then another and another. What am I missing?

revanon5 karma

What you are describing is atonement theory, and believe it or not, the church went along just fine for the first thousand years before developing the Jesus-paid-for-my-sins-in-my-place substitution theory of atonement! There are several other theories, but one that I rather like is that the payment wasn't to God but to Satan, but Jesus got the better of Satan by resurrecting, and in so doing did not so much pay a debt but paid a ransom to liberate us from being hostages to Satan. Instead of being circular, it becomes liberatory. There are several more different atonement theories out there, and I'd encourage you to explore them!

rrwins2 karma

Thanks for doing this. What is your opinion on the megschurches and pastors living in mansions and flying personal jets. Seems like no other culture / religion has their clergy living such lives. Would Jesus have approved of this?

revanon9 karma

The only megachurch pastors I approve of living in mansions and flying private jets are the Righteous Gemstones, and only on the grounds of comedic effect.

abbybegnoche2 karma

What is the difference between a parish pastor and a pastor?

revanon8 karma

A pastor is any ordained/commissioned/etc. minister. A parish pastor is a pastor currently serving a congregation or community of congregations in preaching, teaching, leading worship, providing pastoral care, and eating all the Christmas cookies.

Ballhawker652 karma

I've never fit in at church. I always see it as "their church" even if the people are nice. I believe spirituality is vital to a happy and fulfilling life. Any recommendations?

revanon4 karma

A church that has just been started (a church plant), maybe? With very new churches you are perhaps less likely to run into the "this is so-and-so's church" because nobody there has those decades of political capital built up. It's still possible to encounter it if that church plant has an unhealthy leadership team or pastor, but a healthy one shouldn't.

BaconAlmighty2 karma

Why are so many churches leaning and promoting a political party? As someone that is center right, the Churches in America no longer really feel like Church. There's really no wonder why people are leaving the Church if it continues to promote a party over Christ's teachings.

revanon5 karma

I wrote an entire chapter in my first book about this exact phenomenon. Vast swaths of the historically white Christian church hitched their wagons to the Republican party in 1980 as a way to punish Jimmy Carter, whom they saw as a turncoat, and so for literally the entire existence of the entire millennial generation (as well as the zoomers coming after us), we have known nothing but a historically white church that acts as a bought-and-paid-for subsidiary of the Republican party, and I do think the most recent former president's transactional alliance with white Christians put that into very stark relief. Which is not to say there are not congregations that organize on behalf of Democrats--there are, but not on remotely the same scope and scale, so it's sort of a false equivalence.

As to the why, though? Because the long and short of it is that political power is very, very tempting. There is a reason why it was one of the three things Satan tempted Jesus with in the wilderness after all. And when you are accustomed to having it, giving it up is often only done with extreme reluctance. All of which is unfortunate because I agree with your assessment that many people are less interested in church now because of the perception that all it has to offer is a partisan political affiliation.

Chambsky2 karma

What are you and your church doing to atone for the past atrocities caused by the church against indigenous people across the continent?

revanon5 karma

Several years ago my denomination formally rescinded and apologized for the Doctrine of Discovery, which was the impetus behind Manifest Destiny, and more of us are doing things like land acknowledgements and promoting indigenous leaders. Someone in my denomination who is doing great work in that regard is Dave Bell, who for years has been our minister at the Yakama reservation in Washington state. I hope those efforts culminate in some sort of reparations--in my most recent book, I spend the final chapter making the case for reparations not only from the government or universities but from churches, with a couple possible ways to begin those conversations. As someone who is owed reparations for a genocide myself but who mostly functions in historically white spaces and so can do some of the labor instead of expecting North American indigenous peoples to do it all, I believe I have something to say and do concerning this.

zin___2 karma

Hey there, collegue and brother!

I'm pastor (presbyterian) in the snowy swiss Alps. We're celebrating Christmas Eve in two hours in an old mountain church :)

Do you celebrate your services in a church or somewhere else? Also, how is your Christmas services impacted by covid?

Merry Christmas to you and your community!

revanon4 karma

My congregation is almost all vaccinated and mostly boosted, and we require masks and rope off every other pew entrance to create some social distancing. We also stream our services online for folks who prefer to worship from the safety at home. We were online-only for a little over a year, which was definitely a crash course in adaptation.

Blessings to you and your flock in the snowy Swiss Alps, which sounds absolutely gorgeous. I hope your Christmas Eve worship in the old mountain church is a lovely divine experience of the Holy Spirit.

KTBFFH12 karma

I mean this question with all due respect. It seems fairly common knowledge now that Christ was not likely born in December and that Christmas emerged from pagan traditions.

With this understanding increasingly more accepted, how do you reconcile the continued celebration of Christmas as it is? Is Christmas really still about Christ's birth (if it ever was)?

revanon13 karma

As I noted elsewhere, I get asked this question every year, and it is true that there is no historical record of Jesus being born on December 25. At the same time, I do think it is an important practice to set aside a day in honor. Like, we don't know that the earth was created on April 22, but April 22 is still Earth Day, you know? I believe that the Christmas story is about much more than Christ's birth--and so does the Bible, for that matter. Luke could have stopped at 2:7, but continues to share the hope of the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna in experiencing the birth of Christ. To me, setting aside a day to honor that hope matters a great deal.

radman842 karma

What's your take on this Ricky Gervais quote? "Science is constantly proved all the time. If we take something like any fiction, any holy book, and destroyed it, in a thousand years' time, that wouldn't come back just as it was. Whereas if we took every science book and every fact and destroyed them all, in a thousand years they'd all be back because all the same tests would be the same result."

revanon14 karma

I have two.

  1. Science and Christianity are not mutually exclusive, and to treat them as such as Gervais does is an artificially false dichotomy.
  2. I don't tell Gervais how to act or do stand-up, so I'd personally be kind of obliged if he desisted from making wild claims about my faith tradition's sacred texts.

Age_Terrible2 karma

Out of all the Gods to choose from why did you pick the one you did?

revanon5 karma

I threw darts.

Truthfully, I was raised in the church and have never felt a desire to leave. The Armenian Congregational Church was there for my family when they arrived here as genocide refugees a century ago, and I'm a fourth-generation Armenian congregationalist today because they lived and eventually flourished here. To me, there is fruit of the Holy Spirit in that.

EBear172 karma

As someone who has struggled with his faith since a sudden and traumatic diagnosis of type 1 diabetes several years ago, where do I start?

I feel like this life is somewhat meaningless, but not necessarily in a nihilistic way. I went from being a devout believer to “maybe there is something.”

I don’t pray anymore, and even as a child I felt like my prayers went nowhere. But oddly enough I still want my child raised in the church, when/if my wife conceives because of Pascal’s Wager and all. For many years my life verse was Mark 5:36.

I just spiritually have no where to go and it’s an odd feeling. The idea of calling myself an atheist feels, to me, immoral and wrong. But at the same time I have little to no faith in anything.

I know that was all a ramble, but where the hell should I start?

revanon3 karma

I am a big fan of Kierkegaard and feel like the spiritual crossroads you are at mirrors his own existential angst that gave rise to, well, existentialism. I am sorry for the trauma you've experienced since and because of your diagnosis, and I would say that for Kierkegaard, God is someone (or something) to experience rather than a being to assent belief in. And our life experience varies from day to day--somedays we feel closer, sometimes further, and sometimes our faith is devout and sometimes it is hanging on by a thread. Kierkegaard wrestled mightily with that aspect of the human condition, and while his answers may not be wholly satisfactory (I know they weren't for me either), I've found him a useful guide in my own moments of questioning. I hope that is one potentially useful starting point. For me, the zen part of reading Kierkegaard is the answer that there are no perfect answers, and so I should try to find my faith where I can and let my faith be enough.

SaltyLicks2 karma

Why do you serve god?

revanon14 karma

Even though I told an auntie of mine when I was eight or nine that I wanted to be Biblical prophet when I grew up (lol) I spent most of my childhood thinking I shouldn't or couldn't be a pastor because I wasn't (and am not) a Republican. Seriously.

Then, on the night of my senior prom in high schol, a childhood friend of mine died in a car accident, and I was scheduled to preach at my childhood congregation the following morning...and I was preaching on, of all things, God's care and providence in times of loss. During the second service, I couldn't get the microphone to work, and I was bone-tired and exhausted in every way. Then the sunlight came back out through the skylights in the sanctuary, and I literally stepped into the light. It was like the flames coming down on the Apostles in the Pentecost story of Acts 2...my temperature erupted, my focus returned, and I started preaching again. I felt I was in fact experiencing God's care and providence in a time of loss.

Afterward, my dad, who is what I call a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) churchgoer, sat me down and basically said, "I know you have a much deeper faith than I do, but I was there and saw what happened, and if you don't at least consider a religious career, your mother and I will have failed you." And ever since then, ministering to others in some form or fashion is pretty much all I have ever wanted to do.

Zunniest1 karma

Why aren't Christians more honest that the Bible doesn't state Jesus's birthday and perpetuate the falsehood that he was born on December 25th?

revanon2 karma

By this point in the holiday season we are so exhausted from the two months of Christmasing and in the throes of sugar lows after all the Christmas sweets that we are just too tired to change it on the calendar.

purplefrequency1 karma

Why did God choose a human woman to birth Jesus in the first place? He could have just sent him with a stork, or had him appear in any number of ways involving humans raising him or not. Is there any biblical answer as to why he was born in the same way we all are?

revanon3 karma

Jesus died in a state of total vulnerability, I think it is important that He was born in a state of total vulnerability as well. Sure, Jesus could have arrived in any number of ways, but for His humbleness--that He calls us to emulate--to be total and complete, He had to come into this world as vulnerably as He left it. Jesus spoke when He was born, and it was for the vulnerable.

Jakefromstatefarm9191 karma

What's a pastor?

revanon4 karma

Someone ordained/commissioned/licensed/etc. by a church or denomination to function in the role of a pastor, which generally means preaching and leading worship on Sundays, providing pastoral counseling and care, teaching church classes, and sometimes also being the building superintendent, secretary, receptionist, janitor, webmaster, and IT support!

bwong0231 karma

Hi Eric, thank you for doing this!

What are you’re thoughts about the different denominations of Christianity?

I’m a practicing Catholic myself but I find myself not bothered with going to a Catholic service vs Christian service and talking about faith with anyone. However I’ve seen people really draw that line hard and it’s something I’d like to explain better

Thanks again and Merry Christmas!!

revanon2 karma

There are more denominations now than flavors at Baskin-Robbins, so I can't give a run down on all of them, but I'd say there are two big axes to look at: belief and expression. Belief is pretty straightforward--what does a church teach and profess to be true? Expression is how those beliefs are put in the world--worship, classes, outreach in the community, public advocacy, etc. And you try to find a church where you align well on each axis. For some folks, the expression of worship is something that they're like Goldilocks or the Princess and the Pea about, but it sounds like you're not, which I think opens up some doors to you that a person might not otherwise consider, which is a good thing.

Superdunce940 karma

Why do you believe in God when there’s never been any evidence?

revanon2 karma

Because I also believe that the word gullible was removed from the dictionary, you got me!!!

Spenbeck-1 karma

Why, in the 21st C, do people still believe in a magic man in the sky? Is it because they desperately want to believe?

revanon10 karma

Per Patton Oswalt's standup routine from several years back, I'm in it for the sky cake.

ElsonDaSushiChef-3 karma

Do you believe that the Earth is round, vaccines work, Biden won, Canada does not have a secret queen, Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty, Covid is real, trans rights are human rights and masks are effective?

revanon31 karma

Unequivocally yes to all of those except for the Canada has a secret queen business simply because I have to plead ignorance on that one. Do...do I really want to know what that's about?

blimblo0 karma

Why do you believe Rittenhouse is guilty when he was acquitted by a jury of his peers?

revanon9 karma

The judge put his thumb on the scale in not allowing the jury to see some pretty salient pieces of evidence that went to Rittenhouse's mindset, and I think that had an impact on the trial.

blimblo-4 karma

So you don't believe in the American legal system? Why would you believe that you know more about what items should/are admissible in court over a judge that has been practicing for a significant portion of his life?

revanon8 karma

I was raised by an attorney and a judge. My entire childhood was a firsthand glimpse into the many inequities and injustices of the American legal system. The stories I can tell of the miscarriages of justice it has produced are horrifying.

come_on_anarchy-15 karma

Do you think you’re an inspiration when your entire life circles around circular logic? Exhausting.

revanon24 karma

/Jack Sparrow voice/ Ah, but you do think I'm an inspiration